21 for ‘21: Unique awards for a unique sporting year

Headshot of Chris Robinson
Chris RobinsonThe West Australian
Ariarne Titmus, Alastair Clarkson & Shaun Burgoyne, and Novak Djokovic.
Camera IconAriarne Titmus, Alastair Clarkson & Shaun Burgoyne, and Novak Djokovic. Credit: AAP/Getty/Getty

If COVID was a tennis shot, then 2020 was a ripping forehand down the line that not even Novak Djokovic could lay a racquet on. In 2021, it was a second serve of such destruction, the combined power of John Isner, Ivo Karlovic and Taylor Dent wouldn’t match it. Somewhere amid the chaos, there have been beacons of light and hope and the odd reminder of what’s not to like.

Glass Half-Full Award

“There are positives coming out of this”: England head coach Chris Silverwood after going down to Australia 3-0 inside 12 days of the Ashes.

The Wait Was Worth It Award

Melbourne’s humble celebration after ending a 57-year premiership drought. There were no off-field imbroglios of any note. No hubris. The players were exemplary, many of whom remained in Perth after the fans had emptied the last seat at Optus Stadium.

The Stand Up When It Counts Award

WA and Optus Stadium for staging a grand final for the ages that may well convince the AFL to switch the big game to twilight in future.

The AFL grand final in WA was a roaring success.
Camera IconThe AFL grand final in WA was a roaring success. Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

Family Ties Award

Halfback Nathan Cleary and his father and coach Ivan Cleary combining to lift the Penrith Panthers to the NRL premiership with a 14-12 win over South Sydney.

The Private-Public Award (Shared by Novak Djokovic and Willie Pike)

To those being paid good money in professional sport who regard their COVID medical status as private. COVID is a very public pandemic. There is nothing private about it.

Novak Djokovic.
Camera IconNovak Djokovic. Credit: Michael Probst/AP

The I’ll Believe It When I See It Award

Bernard Tomic claiming he has turned over a new leaf.

Little Aussie Vegemite Award

Ash Barty for her Wimbledon triumph. Same skirt as Evonne Goolagong Cawley when she saluted at The All England Lawn Tennis &Croquet Club in 1980.

Nothing Can Stop Me Award

Dylan Alcott becoming the first male to win the quad wheelchair golden tennis slam — a week after claiming a second consecutive gold medal at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

The John Farnham Farewell Tour Award

Four-time Hawthorn premiership coach Alastair Clarkson (four flags) and four time Hawthorn-Port Adelaide premiership player Shaun Burgoyne.

Alastair Clarkson & Shaun Burgoyne leave the field together.
Camera IconAlastair Clarkson & Shaun Burgoyne leave the field together. Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

Giant Killer Award

Ariarne Titmus for her twin freestyle gold medals over 200m and 400m — and her defeat of America’s greatest female swimmer Katie Ledecky at the Tokyo Olympics.

Ariarne Titmus upon getting one of her golds.
Camera IconAriarne Titmus upon getting one of her golds. Credit: IPA/Sipa USA

Like Father Like Son Award

Charlie Woods showing all of the traits of his gifted golfing dad Tiger at the PNC Championship last month. But even that dynamic duo could only finish second to John Daly and his offspring John Patrick Daly II.

Sizzling Siblings Award

Minjee Lee and Min Woo Lee. A major for Minjee and the Scottish Open for Min Woo as well as the top-50 rankings finish that has secured a start in all four majors.

Minjee Lee.
Camera IconMinjee Lee. Credit: Icon Sportswire/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The John Landy Sportsmanship Award

Cedric Dubler’s encouragement of bronze medallist Ash Moloney in the last event of the decathlon in Tokyo.

If At First You Don’t Succeed Try And Try Again Award

Jessica Fox’s gold in the women’s C1 after a “disappointing” silver in the final of the K1, her pet event.

Break On Through To The Other Side Award

The Boomers and their first Olympic medal, of the bronze variety, and Patty Mills’ leadership.

Australia's Joe Ingles and Patty Mills.
Camera IconAustralia's Joe Ingles and Patty Mills. Credit: Eric Gay/AP

Back With A Bang Award

The Melbourne Cup, with a crowd, and Verry Ellleegant saluting with James McDonald on board.

Great Scott Award

Scott Boland’s 6-7 on debut in the Boxing Day Test on debut. Magic.

Scott Boland had an amazing debut.
Camera IconScott Boland had an amazing debut. Credit: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/AP

Mad Max Award

Max Verstappen winning the F1 title after Lewis Hamilton had it snatched from his grasp in dramatic fashion in Abu Dhabi.

Cup of Good Faith Award

Oi, Oi, Oi! A T20 World Cup no one expected except Justin Langer and the Aussies themselves.

Back To The Wall Award

Justin Langer. World Cup triumph then the Ashes. Re-sign him now.

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